If you could design a DSLR, what would it have in it?

Image compliments of iStockphoto.com
Image compliments of iStockphoto.com

Last week while I was at Photoshop World, I stopped in to drop off my Nikon D600 for cleaning at the Nikon lounge. They offered a GREAT FREE cleaning service to all attendees and cleaned over 400 bodies. While hanging out in the lounge and catching up with my friends from Nikon I took a shot of the one of a kind Nikon guitar that they were giving away.


One of the Nikon reps started giving me crap (in fun) about shooting it with my iPhone instead of my Nikon camera. I threw it right back at him and said “well if this $3,300 Nikon D810 had WiFi built in and social sharing, then maybe I would have taken the shot with it instead.” Then we got into a debate about built-in WiFi and why the magnesium (metal) bodies didn’t have it. I said “so you mean to tell me that there’s just no way possible to design a metal body with Wifi? Really?” He couldn’t argue with me anymore. Nonetheless, I used the tool (in this case my iPhone 5s) that would get the job of shooting and sharing a shot on social media most efficiently. This friendly debate and jabbing got me to thinking (once again) about my dream DSLR body and what features it would have in it. Here are just a few of mine:

  • 16-24MP (36MP is GREAT, but only if they let me dial it down to smaller RAW file when I want)
  • Native DNG support
  • Built-in WiFi
  • Built-in GPS
  • Touch screen with customizable menus like a smartphone
  • 4K Video (not that I need that right now, but we are dreaming)
  • Very water resistant if not waterproof
  • Super light weight and rugged
  • Wireless control built-in to trigger from a mobile device and see a Live View

Now I know that many of the features above can be done with add-on accessories, but it’s 2014 and these things should be standard, especially on higher end models. Even for those that would say that they don’t want or need all of those things and therefore don’t want to have to pay for them by default, then I say at least build them all into an optional battery grip. That I buy the grip that adds ALL the modern features to my DSLR.

So I ask you, what would your list have?

10 Replies to “If you could design a DSLR, what would it have in it?”

  1. An open RAW file format that would not need to be reverse engineered by Adobe.
    Ability to bracket 3, 5, 7, or 9 shots with a 2-stop difference.
    A dust shield that would automatically slide into place to protect the camera when changing lenses, making sensor cleaning a thing of the past.
    A built-in, programable flash trigger, compatible with any off-camera flash.
    Fully functional with any lens made by the camera manufacturer.
    A cable release that does not interfere with Really Right Stuff ball heads when the camera is mounted in a portrait configuration.

  2. 1. Interchangeable sensors
    2. Face detection in the optical viewfinder
    3. Rangefinder focus assist in optical viewfinder and live view
    4. Thunderbolt connector
    5. Live histogram overlay available in optical viewfinder
    6. Lockable aperture and shutter speed
    7. Batteries with built-in meter strips (like some laptops)
    8. Leaf shutter lenses (like Leica S2)

  3. 1. Affordable 2 1/4 dslr.
    2. Built-in self cleaning mode for interior of camera and rear glass of lens.
    3. Transformer mode to change appearance of camera for street pics or public guards.
    4. Adjustable legs with self leveling.
    5. Ability to back up to a NAS storage device even when wifi is not present.

  4. Terry, great question! FULLY agree on the onboard wifi. That would be at the top of my list. I would also like a larger viewfinder. And, while we’re at it: built-in pocketwizard like radio-based communication with flashes of any kind,

  5. Whoa, I can go at it all day and answer it differently each time! I really have no idea what I actually dream of in a camera. This is the current checklist:

    — 16-24MP APS-C (24 x 16 mm) sensor
    — Big, bright optical viewfinder with a 2nd-tier autofocus sensor (don’t need D4s-range autofocus), but also Live View mode in the viewfinder. (Someone should figure out how to do that with DSLRs. I currently prefer and use a mirrorless camera mostly because of the EVF.)
    — Native DNG support (didn’t think about that prior to reading your list!)
    — Relatively small and light body. Don’t need that LCD on the top that most high-end DSLRs have.
    — Olympus OM-D E-M1’s control layout. Haven’t tried high-end DSLRs, but I assume that I don’t need all of those buttons. The E-M1’s layout is pretty expansive.
    — Water resistant and dustproof.

    And I want a lens lineup similar to the Fuji X lenses: Superzoom (18-135mm f/3.5-5.6) that’s actually high-quality; f/2.8 zooms (16-55mm & 50-140mm); wide-angle primes (12mm f/2.8 Zeiss / 14mm f/2.8 / 16mm f/1.4 / 18mm f/2).

  6. No more mechanical shutter, No mirror. WiFi (at least n).
    15-60 fps, Tilt touch screen. 4 MP EVF
    SDK with full programability + App Store
    Scripting language

  7. Terry, I pretty much agree with your list, but given that the DSLR experience of this old Nikon film shooter is with a D5100, and now a D610, although I like the touchscreen idea, I’d still like physical buttons for eyes in the viewfinder operation. Also an articulated screen for high shots, low shots, and, ahem, selfies.

    And lastly, focus peaking.

  8. Compur shutter, ISO starting at 5, reasonably priced medium format full frame camera with solid state drive capability

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